So, you’ve decided to bring a cat into your life. Congratulations, and a good choice of beast to have in your home. First, get the house ready.
You’ll want to either buy food bowls or designate what will be used for the cat. Then we have the litter box. Make sure the sides are low enough for the cat to get in and out of easily. The choice of litter is astounding: Scoopable, basic clay, paper, pine based, corn based, wheat based. Scoopable litter can not be flushed, and basic clay doesn’t control the odor well, and is ecologically unsound. Wheat based, in this writer’s opinion, just turns to paste in the bottom. Pine based controls the odor well and can be used as a mulch. So can the corn based. Paper isn’t very good at controlling odor, and neither are the crystals. Crystal litter does stay dryer longer.
Buy or make a scratching post. This can be done with carpet remnants and scrap wood or heavy cardboard. If you are getting a kitten, cat nip won’t mean much to it yet. Toys, like those fur mice, are a good investment. The little high bounce balls from gumball machines are also good. Bed? The cat will find its own, but likely will sleep with you.
Where you get your kitten is your choice. Rescues are a good place to start, as those kittens have shots and may have had early spay/neuter. Rescues, however, may insist on certain conditions. For instance, some will take the cat back if it’s allowed outdoors. Just stating fact. The local animal shelter is good, and you’ll be saving life. And then there is always whatever comes down the pike. Getting a pedigreed kitten from a breeder, you will likely get a health guarantee.
When choosing a kitten, look for clear, bright eyes. Check the teeth. They’re baby teeth, they will fall out, but make sure they’re clean. Look in the ears. Sniff the ears. Are the ears clean, no crud in them? Crud in the ears can indicate ear mites. Is there a yeasty smell? That smell can mean an infection.
Does it get up and move around? Walk steadily? Check the coat. Clean, no mats, no bugs? Check the skin for rashes. Most importantly, does that little one seem to like you? Go with the kitten you really click with.
Talk to the current guardian of the kitten/cat and ask about diet. What has the cat been eating? Does it have a favorite toy? Anything it particularly likes to do? Also find out if the cat is spayed or neutered.
It’s in your best interest to take a roomy box with a lid or a carrier with you when you look at cats or kittens. This is to transport them home in. They are frightened enough that they are going with a stranger. The dark will help them calm down, and keep the cat in one place in the car, instead of going everywhere, trying to get out the window, or hanging around behind the brake pedal.
When you bring your new family member home, put it, box and all, in a quiet room with food, water, and a litter box. Let the cat take its time exploring. The can can be let out of that room when it has been tested for the nasties, like leukemia and FIV, and seems used to the house and the noises.